State budget proposal reveals a surge in revenue, but outlook for schools remains hazy

This week, Governor Jerry Brown released his latest budget plan for 2011-12, and although there was some potentially good news in the form of increased state revenue, the impact on K-12 education remains uncertain.

Under the governor’s “May Revise” proposal, California’s public schools would receive flat funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1. But Brown’s spending plan is based on the optimistic assumption that some temporary taxes will be extended by a majority of voters in the fall. That’s far from certain, and in fact any ballot measure would first have to win legislative approval.

If the temporary taxes are not extended, school districts are faced with the possibility of an all-cuts budget, which could reduce K-12 education spending by another $5 billion, according to Brown’s projections. Keep in mind that California schools have already endured $18 billion worth of cuts over the last three years,

“A $5 billion reduction to Proposition 98 funding is equivalent to eliminating 4 weeks of the K‑12 school year and 52,000 community college courses,” the governor’s proposal says. “Alternatively, it equates to laying off 51,000 teachers, raising K‑12 class sizes from an average of 25 students to 30 students, and raising community college fees from $36 to $125 per unit.”

The May Revise serves as an annual starting point for budget deliberations, which can sometimes linger through the summer months as lawmakers grapple over how to produce a balanced spending plan. School districts, meanwhile, are required to have their budgets in place by no later than June 30.

Lisa Howell, IUSD’s assistant superintendent of business services, said Irvine would present its latest projections at the Board of Education’s meeting on June 7, along with any new state developments.

“We will continue our practice of budgeting conservatively and planning for a number of contingencies as we closely monitor discussions out of Sacramento,” Howell said Monday.

To read Governor Brown’s budget proposal, click here.